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Honk a lot? Bleep believes a frowney face will change that
Mahima Dayal  29th Jun 2013

Bleep device that starts frowning if you honk excessively

n the ridge road that runs parallel to the Jawaharlal Nehru University, an enthused activist leaps in front of a Honda City that is honking to get out of a jam caused by Ravi Kalra and his crew of civic guerrillas. The driver of the Honda is asked to pull over, sermonised on noise pollution, while a flyer that reads, "Kuuta bhi bina vajah nahi bhonkta, (even dogs don't bark without a reason) stop honking please!" is pasted on the back of his car. After escaping this encounter, the driver pulls over again to tear out this banner and throw it over the ridge.

A more ingenious project, called Bleep, was able to spot this loop hole when they mention that, 'Awareness does not always lead to action.' This led them to devise a contraption which makes drivers more conscious and aware each time they choose to honk.

This project was started by Anand Damani and Mayur Tekchandani, who are based out of Mumbai, in September last year. A prototype of Bleep was put to test on 30 manual Swifts and automatic Hondas driven by men, women and paid drivers (chauffeurs) of private vehicles, over a period of 6 months and over 3800 kilometres.

a visual-cum-sound reminder, when the red light with the frown beeps and flashes, giving the driver instant feedback when honking excessively. — Anand Damani

The concept behind the device is similar to that of a seat belt reminder which is installed in cars. A red button with a frowning emoticon was attached to the dashboard of the cars. For the experiment, Bleep was preset to trigger off each time the horn is pressed in the Swift, and every third time the horn was pressed in the Honda City. "These cars were driven for four days during the working week, two days with Bleep off and the next two days with Bleep on, so that we could compare the number of honks per kilometre pre-Bleep as opposed to the post-Bleep scenario," says Damani.

The website of their behavioural design company, Briefcase (www.brief-case.co/bleep.html), shows that the experiment led to a reduction in honks per kilometre by an average of 62% in the Swift and 60% in the case of the Honda City. Damani quotes a study titled, Overcoming Intuition by behavioural scientists Alter, Oppenheimer, Epley and Eyre, suggesting that the symbolic presence of frowning helps the brain reduce the reliance on intuition and activates analytical reasoning. Consequently, the emoticon on the bleep button serves as a, "a visual-cum-sound reminder, when the red light with the frown beeps and flashes, giving the driver instant feedback when honking excessively." To turn off the bleep button the driver then has to switch it off manually, thereby making this task an incentive to honk lesser.

 
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